It’s a universal truth that true artists will always busy themselves creating, and that truly great artists will always find an audience for that work. It is little surprise then that despite storied individual histories playing in and working with some of the most iconic bands ever to have stalked the planet, Nikki Sixx, Dj Ashba and James Michael—collectively known as SIXX:A.M.—find themselves on the brink of unleashing yet another rock monster onto a burgeoning fan-base, that has already taken them firmly to their hearts.
Casper had a quick chat with Dj regarding the new album and the very real possibility of touring Australia soon!
With two U.S. Billboard top 20 albums and a string of hit singles already under their belt, Prayers For The Damned, the fourth studio album from a trio, represents the band’s most ambitious, complete and adrenaline-soaked effort to date. The album also boasts first-class production and mixing by Michael and original artwork from Ashba, proving that this collection of music is a true labor of passion.
“When we toured our last record (2014’s Modern Vintage) it was the first time we had really been a band that existed outside of the studio,” confesses front-man Michael. “Playing those songs we finally realized how much fun this band is and finally admitted to ourselves that, yes, we are a proper live band. Dj took the decision to leave Guns ’N’ Roses and Nikki wrapped up Mötley Crüe. There are no distractions any more and we’re all 100% dedicated to SIXX:A.M. now.”
“We’ve been together for seven years and I believe we’ve just got tighter and tighter in that time,” adds Ashba. “For me, on our last tour, something clicked inside. What touched me most was seeing what our songs had some to mean to people.”
“It’s absolutely time for us to treat this band with the time and energy it deserves,” echoes Sixx. “It’s a gang, a tribe and we’re incredibly proud of that.”
But if SIXX:A.M.’s tour schedule cemented what many already knew – that this is a truly special band capable of breath-stealing brilliance—it also reminded the band of the abiding power of pedal-down rock’n’roll.
“Prayers For The Damned includes some of the heaviest songs I’ve ever been involved with writing,” smiles Sixx. “These are the songs that are designed to get a reaction from a live crowd as much as they are going to sound brilliant over your stereo.”
To that end, the first single, “Rise” is a full-blooded head-banger, which distills all of hard rock’s most joyously unrestrained traits and garnishes them with a chorus that stretches to the stratosphere and back with consummate ease. Truly, an anthem that would grace any stadium or festival field the globe over. Michael explains the song’s message, “Throughout history, some of the most dramatic changes have occurred when people reject the status quo and demand change. ‘Rise’ is about how we find ourselves at a global tipping point and how it is our duty as citizens of this world to come together, communicate with one another and rise up to demand more of ourselves and our leaders.”
Elsewhere, the depth and quality of the musicianship on offer on the likes of the groove-laden “You’ve Come To The Right Place” and the deliciously smoldering title track is of the sky-high standards you’d expect from three musicians whose reputations speak entirely for themselves.
“James and Dj are two of the most talented musicians I have ever met,” enthuses Sixx. “Every day we went into the studio they would be pushing me further and harder to get the best from myself and the performances they have delivered on this record are exceptional.”
“I feel like, as a guitar player, this is the album I have always dreamed of making,” adds Ashba. “There are techniques and styles on here that surpass anything I’ve ever even attempted with this band. We felt it was really time to experiment, we never want to make the same record twice – and this is us doing what we do best, heavy songs with a deep, meaningful lyricism.”
Indeed, while Prayers For The Damned is characterized by towering riffs and broad brushstrokes of melody, it’s also an album possessed of philosophically hopeful overtones.
“A song like “Rise” speaks to the fact that you don’t have to look very far around the world to see people standing together and rising up against some oppressive force,” offers Sixx. “We’re not a political band but we certainly do believe in a unity between people. The only time when things make a change for the positive is when people put their differences aside, rise up and stand together. A big part of our message is, and will always be finding hope in dark subject matters, taking universal messages and rendering them in a way which people can ascribe their own meanings to and relate to their own life experiences. That is something that resonates with our crowd and gives us the strength of connection we do.”
If Prayers For The Damned sees the trio casting their glance out onto the world we live in more than ever before, there is still a deal of the personal introspection the band have come to be renowned for represented here. The ebbing slow burn of “Better Man”, for example, sees the Michael facing the demons of self-doubt we all experience with typical honesty, all against the most epic of instrumental backdrops.
The bottom line is that SIXX:A.M. are coming back swinging with a collection of songs that will fire up both the head and heart in equal measure – a band who, after a longer gestation period than most, are now finding their true sound and producing art that refuses to be led by anything but their own desires.
“What we have all done in the past has liberated us to do exactly what we want now,” smiles Ashba. “Prayers For The Damned is nothing more than the three of us expressing ourselves as friends who love making music together. My favourite thing about this band is everyone involved is a true artist: it’s honest and it’s pure and I think people see, and instantly relate to, that.”
“This time around we have really found what the voice of SIXX:A.M. is and I hope that when people listen to them they will hear their voice too,” adds Sixx. “For any fans who listened to Modern Vintage and were wondering ‘Where does SIXX:A.M. go next?’ This record will be a comprehensive answer.”
Heavy, emotional and firmly firing on all cylinders, this megastar trio are about to secure themselves as a modern hard rock force to be reckoned with—a band who, four albums in, are only just getting started.
“The future of this band is incredibly, incredibly bright,” closes Michael. “And we are about to pull the trigger.”